Hey folks!

UPI is getting yet another makeover. After UPI Lite we could have conversational UPI payments backed by AI soon. Now, UPI Lite lets you pay up to ₹200 with a single tap. You don’t need a pin to go ahead with a small value transaction as it doesn’t communicate with a bank’s core banking system in real time. But conversational UPI payments could be faster.

Think about it. You have a question about a product and plan to chat with a brand’s customer support team. After they resolve your query, you decide to buy it. So you place an order on the chat itself.

Now, when you need to pay, this new innovation will help you complete the transaction without leaving the chat. So, you won’t have to switch to your UPI app. A lot like how you can complete card transactions without exiting a payment page. Earlier we could only do this through the bank’s web page, remember?

Besides, The Voice Playbook 2021 report suggests that voice searches in India are currently growing at a whopping 270% per year. And it’s fair to say that because voice is just easier and quicker. You see how your parents or other folks who are not too comfortable typing, just love the ease of telling phones or TVs what to do. The younger generation swears by it too. So telling your phone to pay without tapping a few more buttons may be just the thing we needed.

Guess we’re headed to another UPI revolution wave. Just when we think that UPI’s reached the peak of innovation, we see it come back with a new feather in its cap. UPI never fails to surprise us, eh?

Here’s a soundtrack to put you in the mood 🎵

Ghost by Parekh & Singh

A couple of things caught our eye this week 👀

Pilot wants to pilot solo

Owning a Pilot pen was every 90s kid’s dream. It simply felt premium.

For the uninitiated, Pilot is a Japanese company that had long been riding on Luxor’s back to write its growth story in India. Luxor meanwhile is one of the leading stationery and writing instruments manufacturer company in India. In fact it was the first company to introduce fibre tip technology for pens in the country in 1975. And so, a few years later it was able to seal a long term partnership with Pilot, handling its marketing and distribution in India. And the collaboration worked great for decades.

But last month, Pilot officially ended its near-half century association with Luxor. And also announced that it’s been investing money to build independent manufacturing units here.

So what’s pushing Pilot to go ahead on its own, you ask?

Well, Luxor wasn’t just exclusively working for Pilot’s business growth. Apart from making its own writing instruments like pens, markers and highlighters it also has a license agreement with US’ Newell Rubbermaid, the company that owns Parker and Waterman. It also partnered with Germany’s Schneider in March, hoping to become a ₹1,000 crore brand.

And when a brand has so many things in its kitty, it can’t do justice to everything, no?

On the flip side, Pilot’s decision to concentrate on its business separately has two advantages. It can handle the manufacturing, sales, inventory and marketing independently. And also focus on penetrating into smaller markets by increasing its distribution network. It doesn’t have to rely on Luxor.

After all, it may have learnt a thing or two about the market during its long term liaison with Luxor.

Besides, Pilot suggests that pens in the ₹5-10 range are growing at about 5-6%. Premium writing instruments on the other hand have been steadily growing at about 8-10% annually. And they take up nearly a quarter of the ₹40 billion pen market in India. That's probably why even penmaker Flair is planning to float its shares in the market through an IPO (Initial Public Offering) soon.

But will this new strategy work given that India mostly runs on low-priced pens that can get the daily writing job done?

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The Stamp Paper Scam

Sony LIV just rolled out its Scam 2003 trailer a couple of days ago. So we thought it a great time to write about it. Spoiler alert!

Abdul Karim Telgi was a man who did a few odd jobs during the 90s. But his hopes of getting rich quickly drew him to the Gulf. It didn’t last long and he returned to India a couple of years later as a travel agent helping people travel to Saudi Arabia. But soon he got himself entangled in a racket where he was responsible for getting fake immigration clearances for workers moving to the Gulf.

It was during his time in jail that he met Karim Lala, one of Mumbai’s famous mafia dons and learnt that there was an acute shortage of stamp papers in the market.

Now, a stamp paper is proof that the parties entering into an agreement have paid the required fees to the government. It makes an agreement enforceable. You have judicial stamp papers which are used to pay court costs. And non judicial stamp papers which are used to execute simple documents like rental agreements.

And mostly these non judicial stamp papers were in high demand at the time. Especially during peak seasons such as school admissions when schools ask for birth certificates. Stamp papers of ₹2-3 were continuously out of stock and people were forced to buy ₹10 stamp papers to execute non judicial documents.

But that was also an opportunity for Telgi. After serving his jail term, he began printing fake stamp papers and selling them in the market at steep discounts. In fact, he was also accused of creating a fake stamp paper shortage so that his counterfeit business flourished.

A couple of years later, the tax authorities opened an investigation into some undisclosed income and that’s how a near ₹30,000 crore stamp paper scam may have been uncovered. Apparently, he’d used machinery that had been decommissioned by the Nashik Security press, to print fake stamp papers. That’s how he’d managed to strike deals with corrupt officers internally and create an artificial stamp paper scarcity.

But guess what?

Telgi wasn’t proven guilty in the case because the court ultimately let it go due to the lack of sufficient evidence.

Quite an audacious fraud to commit, isn’t it? Are you excited to watch the series in September?

Infographic 📊

Money tips 💰

FOMO and financial goals

Social media can be a jerk when it comes to FOMO. Influencers always set the bars unrealistically high with glamorous outfits, lavish holidays and home decor that costs a bomb.

All this induces a pang of jealousy.

And if it’s your peers or friends who are also able to afford that lifestyle, then things get worse. You’re engulfed by a sudden inferiority complex. And you get a bad case of the Fear Of Missing Out.

That makes you think ― “Oh, what if I invest some money in a few high return funds? I could use that money to buy a car next year. Or what if I use up my emergency fund to take a little unplanned vacation now? I can post snaps on Instagram. Show everyone I’m living the high-life too. My job is secure. I’m healthy. And I even have a health insurance cover. So I won’t have an emergency immediately. Maybe I could use those funds now and make up for it by putting the money back in a few months.”

It’s a trap folks.

Financial planning can be hard and focusing on the journey can be even harder. Not everyone has the same financial mileage. So it isn’t fair to compare yourself to another person’s achievements.

And when you take unnecessary risks of chasing returns in crypto and penny stocks just to earn that little extra, you put everything you’ve worked for at risk. You risk losing your hard earned money altogether. Also, exhausting last minute emergency money isn’t a wise thing to do because that money has a purpose. Emergencies.

We didn’t learn ‘Slow and steady wins the race’ for nothing in school. If you think about it, having a head on your shoulders is important so that you don’t lose your way along your financial journey. Don’t let FOMO get in its way.

Readers Recommend 🗒️

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

Today our reader Avi Neelesh Bansode recommends a book that uncovers the ten instincts that distort our perspective — from consuming information that the media throws at us to perceiving progress. The author suggests that our answers to simple questions like what percentage of the world’s population lives in poverty or why the world’s population is increasing may be entirely distorted or biased. So he offers new perspectives to the way we look at the world through this book.

We hope you like it. Thanks for the recommendation Avi!

Finshots Weekly Quiz 🧩

It’s time to announce the winner of our previous Weekly Quiz. And the winner is… 🥁

Vihit Shah! Congratulations. Keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll get in touch with you soon to send over your Finshots merch.

And for the rest of you, here’s your next chance to grab the winner’s crown. Click on this 👉🏽 link, answer all the questions correctly and tune in next week to check if you got lucky.

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